Class Actions are Safe…For Now
The Supreme Court surprised the legal world this week when it held that a defendant who made a Rule 68 offer of settlement to the lead plaintiff in a class action could not defeat the entire class by doing so. The majority, led by Justice Ginsburg, arrived at its opinion primarily on the basis of contract law, and stated that a rejected offer “creates no lasting right or obligation.”
The full text of the opinion can be found here:
As the following articles explain, the victory allows those who fight on behalf of consumers to continue their pursuit of justice, but it also leaves open the possibility for future class action defendants to squash such cases by actually paying to settle with the lead plaintiff:
Supreme Court says class action lawsuits can survive compensation offers (USA Today)
Supreme Court Rejects One Tactic To End Class Actions, But Leaves Another Open (Forbes)
Justice Ginsburg Leads Supreme Court Majority To Deliver Blow To Big Business (HuffPost)
Given the makeup of the Supreme Court — and the stated reasoning for Justice Thomas’s dissent — it appears that once again this issue will, if before this group of nine, depend on Justice Kennedy’s vote.